I have been writing and speaking a lot recently about organizational “culture.” It seems to be a topic that has reemerged as a business priority, and for very good reason. The forces shaping our internal and external workplaces today are having a profound impact on the definition of financial institution. The changes we are experiencing in our political, social, and economic environments, as well as changes in workforce demographics and technology, are astounding. But sometimes a word can be overused, to the point that it loses its meaning and impact. I’m afraid that culture is becoming one of those words.
I see clients struggle to define culture in singular ways: “We need a sales culture,” “We want a culture of accountability.” But culture isn’t something that is singular or simple. An organization’s culture is the shared values, beliefs, and behaviors that underscore how things get done, how decisions get made, and how people interact. This is clearly not singular or simple. The risk in overusing the word is that we oversimplify what it takes to instill “change,” and that word is in a similar predicament.